Aphorisms by Igor Braca Damnjanovic

Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Igor Braca Damnjanovic writes aphorisms, poems, stories, and plays. He founded and edits Sipak, an online satirical magazine. His aphorisms have the classic two-part construction characteristic of jokes—first the set up, followed by the punchline—and the dark sarcastic humor characteristic of the Balkans. (Translations, with slight edits from me, by Sue Suncica Vilic.)

We’ve wasted enough time. From now on, we’re doing nothing.

This is not the end. There are two rock bottoms.

I got another clock. I’m buying time.

I am not drunk. You are two-faced!

I can’t believe it: I became an atheist.

I like listening to lies; there is some truth to that.

I got serious; I became a humorist.

Lyric Aphorism in Contemporary Poetry

Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, sends news of The Smallest Space: Lyric Aphorism in Contemporary Poetry by Hannah Brooks-Motl in The Kenyon Review Online. The essay explores, as Brooks-Motl puts it, how “Aphorisms, and aphorism-like language, can increasingly be found in poems written by poets associated with avant-garde movements of the past few decades … [and] how, and why, and for what reasons poets typically grouped as “resisters” might turn to a technique aligned with universal truth, objective reality, and univocal speakers.”

In the essay, Brooks-Motl quotes W.H. Auden, who, in the Faber Book of Aphorisms, wrote: “The aphorist does not argue or explain, he asserts; and implicit in his assertion is a conviction that he is wiser or more intelligent than his readers.” I don’t share Auden’s view of what he called the “aristocratic” character of aphorisms or his assertion that aphorists regard themselves as wiser or more intelligent than readers. I think aphorists are more like stand up comedians or very very short storytellers, both of whom rely on their audiences to be complicit in and complete what they say. The best aphorisms create moments of shared insight, not didactic lessons handed down from on high.

6-Word Memoirs from Minneapolis

Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, shares this selection of 6-word memoirs from Minneapolis, one of the city’s public art projects. Smith Magazine started the 6-word memoir craze. Because of the strict word limit, writing these compressed autobiographies forces you to become aphoristic pretty quick. In Minneapolis, participants submitted their memoirs online or wrote them directly onto posters in community centers and cafes, kind of like slam-o but then not surreptitiously. Some 6-word memoirs from Minneapolitans…

A map, desire, two wheels. H0me. —Aaron, 23, Seward

I would rather guess than know. —Nancy, 43, East Isles (See W.H. Auden: Guessing is more fun than knowing.)

Go to the park and play. —Zara, 4, Fulton

My banjo keeps me emotionally grounded. —James, 43, Northeast

six words is six too many —Moses, Homeless

It’s safe to go home now. —Courtney, 30, S. Minneapolis

6 Words Minneapolis was initiated and curated by Emily Lloyd (@PoesyGalore). Do try this at home.

Aphorisms by slam-o

Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, strikes again, noting the aphoristic romantic reflections of slam-o, who writes sayings by hand and tapes them to hoardings, shop windows, mailboxes and even inside toilet cisterns. One of slam-o’s low-tech, high-concept aphorisms reads

He stood out in the way he shied from the spotlight.

Check out the slide show The Poetic Aphorisms of slam-o.